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Published: Friday, 12/2/2005

Henry County board trims $171,000; more budget cuts on way

NAPOLEON - The Henry County's Sheriff's Office lost more than $100,000 - including hopes of purchasing three new cars - and the Henry Soil and Water Conservation District lost more than $71,000 in next year's budget, compared to this year's.

Those were the only offices cut yesterday in the Henry County commissioners' third round of budget cutting being made in the wake of voters' overwhelming decision Nov. 8 to repeal the county's new sales tax.

But another round of cuts is on Monday's agenda. After that, commissioners will add up their figures.

And if the cuts don't save enough - the commissioners have said they are attempting to budget $6.5 million for next year, down from $8 million in spending this year - there are certain to be more cuts this month.

For Sheriff John Nye, the cuts will mean a car that has 180,000 miles on it will stay on the road next year, where it is expected to accumulate another 30,000 to 40,000.

He will spend less with the Multi Area Narcotics Unit as well as on maintenance of cars and buildings, uniform replacement, dry cleaning, and supplies - all the way down to paper and pencils, he said.

His budget is expected to be just under $1.12 million, down from almost $1.16 million this year - and that doesn't include a $60,000 cut in new car expenditures.

"This is devastating stuff for us right now," Sheriff Nye said.

He has told the commissioners that he "can't and won't" voluntarily lay off staff.

But if cuts the commissioners are to make Monday in other offices don't balance the budget, the sheriff could be forced into ordering layoffs.

The conservation district took a more than $36,000 hit from the county, which is 25 percent of the $145,000 it received from the commissioners this year.

But because that money was used as a match to receive state funds, the district will have $71,000 less to work with in 2006 than it did this year.

The district will not replace a secretary/receptionist who retired, conservation administrator Bob George said.

Other reductions in programs and services are expected to be determined by the conservation board when it meets Dec. 20.

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